CAPEL (afterwards CAPEL CONINGSBY), George, Visct. Malden (1757-1839).
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Family and Education
b. 13 Nov. 1757, o.s. of William, 4th Earl of Essex by his 1st w. Frances, da. and coh. of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams. educ. Westminster 1766-74; Corpus Christi, Camb. 1775. m. (1) 1786, Sarah, da. of Henry Bazett, wid. of Edward Stephenson, s.p.; (2) 1838, Catherine, da. of Edward Stephens, carver and gilder, s.p. suc. gd.-mother, Lady Frances Hanbury Williams (née Coningsby) 20 Dec. 1781, and took add. name of Coningsby; suc. fa. 4 Mar. 1799.
Malden’s father, a nephew and political follower of the Duke of Bedford, being chronically in financial difficulties, relied on the royal bounty; in 1779 he had, among other things, a secret service pension of £900 p.a. Malden was returned for Westminster unopposed, but what expenses there were were probably paid by Government. The Public Ledger wrote about him: ‘From the conduct and dependence of his father, we may presume that he will vote constantly with the ministry.’ So he did in each of the five divisions for which lists are available between April 1779 and the dissolution. He did not stand at the general election of 1780. A man of fashion and a favourite of the Prince of Wales, he brought about the Prince’s acquaintance with Mrs. Robinson, his own mistress.1 Possibly it was not till the affair resulted in a scandal that the King learnt of it; for on 4 June 1781 Malden was returned on a vacancy at Lostwithiel, a borough which the Government leased from Edgcumbe, paying also for re-elections.2 Next Malden went with the Duke of Gloucester to Bruges, where, wrote George Selwyn to Lord Carlisle, 18 June 1781, they ‘passed two days with the Emperor’ [Joseph II].3 And on the 21st: ‘I believe that his Imperial Majesty said very little of any importance à nos deux vagabonds, and the journey was made more out of ostentation than anything else.’4 On 28 Aug. 1781 the King wrote to North:5
My eldest son got last year into a very improper connexion with an actress and woman of indifferent character through the friendly assistance of Ld. Malden. A multitude of letters passed which she has threatened to publish unless he in short bought them of her ... I have thought it right to authorize the getting them from her ...
At the cost of £5,000 he got his son ‘out of this shameful scrape’.
In Parliament Malden’s attendance and voting were again most regular: in each of the six divisions, December 1781-15 Mar. 1782, his name appears on the Government side. He did not vote on Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and in March 1783 was listed by Robinson ‘abroad’; and when Fox was whipping up his friends before the opening of the session, he sent to the Duke of Manchester, ambassador in Paris, a letter for Malden ‘whose direction I do not know’.6 Malden returned and voted for Fox’s East India bill; and continued with the Opposition. In 1784 he stood on the interest of the Duke of Bedford at Okehampton; went down with Robert Palmer, the Duke’s estate agent; but met there with opposition and unexpected defeat. He immediately went back to Paris, as is shown by letters addressed to him there by Palmer in April and May 1784. When on 27 Apr. 1785 he was seated on petition, Palmer had to urge him ‘to come immediately to England’ to take his seat; and when in July he was ‘very much wanted’ for the action brought in his name and Minchin’s against the mayor of Okehampton for a false return, he was again—or perhaps still—abroad. The first division in which his name appears is on the Regency. There is no record of his having spoken in the House before 1790.
He died 23 Apr. 1839.